Here’s what Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said today. Good to see him healthy. Also of note: how much of what he says is similar to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks, from “next-man up mentality” to calling on the 12th Man (theirs, not you guys):
“Good afternoon. Good to see everybody as usual. First of all, I want to congratulate Bob Schellinger of Laporte High School for being named coach of the week. Congratulations to Bob. Injury update: Bjoern Werner, last night we said went out with the foot sprain. Got the MRI back. He’s got a torn plantar fascia. He’ll be four to six weeks. Bad news there for Bjoern but he’ll be back. Stanley Havili, MRI came back negative. He’s got a mild ankle sprain. It’ll be a week or so on Stanley. You saw we signed, with him being out for a week or so, we signed Robert Hughes back to the roster and waived Griff Whalen. Looking at the tape, as always, there’s good stuff on there. A lot of good things. A lot of things to clean up. Penalties, we haven’t been penalized that much so we’ve got to address some of those things. Some of them were, again, self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to correct and make sure that we don’t start a trend in that direction. We’ve been really good as far as that goes. As most of you know, got off to a slow start, but worth noting D-But’s (Darius Butler) interception, pick-six, kind of ignited us and took off from there. It was much needed at that time. Again, there was a lot of good things on that tape. Make the corrections and start prepping for a great Seattle team that’s coming to town.”
Who steps into Bjoern Werner’s role? Would it be Cam Johnson?
Do you have a better idea on Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury?
“Still being evaluated and don’t have a definitive answer for you guys yet. As soon as we get one, I’ll let you know.”
What do you guys plan to do with LaVon Brazill?
“We don’t have to do anything. He’s back to practice but he’s exempt coming off the suspension, so you get to practice him for a week and you don’t have to do anything. You get an exemption.”
Do you think that’s what you’ll do? Keep him exempt?
“We don’t have to do anything so that’s the beauty of the deal. He’s been here under his suspension. He’s been here the whole time. Only thing he couldn’t do is practice. But he could meet, lift in the weight room and do all those kind of things. Run on his own. Couldn’t do anything with the team. So he stayed in it mentally so now we get the luxury of bringing him back out and letting him practice now.”
There used to be restrictions on all that, right?
“They’ve got different rules for different suspensions. Under his was he was able to do everything but practice.”
So a one-week roster exemption?
How had Bjoern Werner been playing?
“Getting better every week. He was trending in the right direction. We talked last week about he’s getting more comfortable. You could see the confidence level rising. Scheme-wise, he wasn’t thinking, he was playing faster, so it’s a shame that it happened. But it’s part of the game.”
How do you see LaVon Brazill factoring into things?
“It’s exactly what you said. We’ll throw him back out there at practice this week. We’ve got guys to get ready for Seattle. We’ll see where he’s at from a mental standpoint. We’ll see where he’s at from a physical standpoint this week during practice. Again, we have the luxury. We don’t have to make any decisions for a while. So we’ll get to see where he’s at. Certainly you can look back at what he did last year. We know what type of receiver he is. He’s got big-play potential. He made the big play against Detroit I think it was at the end of that game. We don’t get back in that game. He’s certainly got the ability to make big plays in the pass game. He was an excellent special-teamer if I recall right running down on kicks and things like that. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
What are your early thoughts on Seattle?
“Great football team. Pete Carroll is one of the best coaches in the league. They’ve got a roster that is filled with excellent football players on both sides of the ball. They’ve got returners. They’ve got a quarterback that’s a nightmare to contain and handle. They’ve got a runner that’s unbelievable. They’ve got wide receivers that can all make plays on the outside. Their defense is as good as there is in the National Football League. They play fast. They’re physical. Secondary that is huge. They’ve got two corners that are 6-3 whatever it is. Kam Chancellor is a big safety and Earl Thomas running around making plays. They got ball players all over the place and they play hard and they play fast and they play with an attitude and they got a swagger. They’ve won a lot of games and they’re 4-0. We got our hands full.”
Since Dwayne Allen has been out, has Coby Fleener’s role been different?
“Yeah, we’ve asked him to do. We always knew what he was in the pass game what a threat. Obviously we’re getting him the ball more partly because of the absence. Kid is preparing really well and there is a trust factor there now. Kid can make plays. We’re asking him to do a little bit more heavy lifting in the run game and he’s responding. He’s getting better.”
What has clicked for the defense over the last two weeks?
“I think if you just listen to the players, them talking, the trust level, confidence, attitude, discipline, guys doing their job down after down after down. You can see it front to back that guys are, you don’t have to do everything. Just do your job and trust that the other guy is going to be where he’s supposed to be. Take care of what you need to take care of and then run to the ball and fly around and play with an aggressive mindset and an attitude. Now they’re getting to the point where they expect to play really good and go out and have great performances so we’ll just keep building on that.”
Why is that trust hard to develop?
“I think when you change schemes, and you’ve been in one scheme for so long, it takes a while. Terminology standpoint, knowing your position, knowing that the other guy knows what’s going on and you can point your finger at a lot of things. It’s not easy. They’re just starting to hit their stride and I think we’ll just keep getting better and better and better.”
How would you assess the first quarter of the season?
“Love the record. Would love to be 4-0 but we’ll take 3-1 every time out. Great start to the first quarter of the season. I think we’ve gotten better every week and that’s our main goal is to come out of every ball game and say that we got better on both sides of the ball and special teams. Certainly, it’s never going to be perfect. We’re chasing perfection. I like where we’re at. I like where this team is at mentally, physically. We’ve lost some guys but guys prepare around here as starters so we’ve had guys that have been able to step in and fill the shoes of the guys that we lost and perform at the level that we need them to perform at so I feel good where we’re at.”
You guys always talk about this next man up mentality. When you talk to your players, do you basically tell them all to try to envision themselves as starters and prepare that way?
“Absolutely. We challenge every one of them, not only myself, but every assistant coach and their teammates. They’re sitting in those rooms and the veteran leadership that we have, it may start with me talking in a team meeting, but then the assistant coaches and then the players. Everybody’s accountable and everybody’s held to a certain level of expectation. You’re one play away. We’ve seen it week-in and week-out since I’ve been here, it happens and so guys are going to get called upon. It was like we talked last week, no worse feeling than walking into an exam that you haven’t studied for. I asked the guys last week, ‘Everybody raise your hand if you ever walked into a test that you didn’t study for.’ I myself, I was the first one to raise my hand and everybody else rose their hand. It’s not a good feeling. That’s why we ask these guys, every one of them, to prepare as starters because again, you’re one play away from having to go in and compete and perform at a level which gives us an opportunity to win.”
Are you ever surprised at how well some of those guys have filled in? A guy like Delano Howell, for example, was so low on the depth chart but has played so well in place of LaRon Landry.
“Again, we got a glimpse in the preseason where he went out and made a bunch of plays. Again, I just credit a guy like Delano that since he’s been here he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do from a physical standpoint, from a mental standpoint. He takes his job very serious and he prepares. So it’s no surprise to any of us that he’s able to go out and play pretty good. If you put the time in and you study your opponent, you practice hard, chances are you’re going to play well on Sunday.”
The game against Seattle is a marquee matchup, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding it from the fans’ perspective. Does any of that seep into the building or do you guys still just stick to your process?
“No, we got to stick to the process. Again, our fans are second to none and it’s 12th man. We know about their 12th man, so our challenge to our fans this week will be who’s the best 12th man in the National Football League? I know who it is and I know our fans will prove it come Sunday. But we’ve got to stay right here. We’ve got to stay steady. We can’t ride the ebbs and flows, just like you can’t ride the ebbs and flows of a game. We’ll stick to the process. They’ll come back Wednesday and we’ll start to introduce Seattle and get ready to play hopefully a good ball game on Sunday.”
What are you seeing from Coby Fleener that shows you he’s more comfortable and more confident this season?
“He practices fast. He’s not thinking. You can tell when a guy’s out there thinking and he’s not sure, usually break the huddle and start looking around or look to Andrew (Luck) for some guidance. You don’t see that. You see him out there playing fast; big, tall, fast guy that’s athletic and can make plays. He had a great day yesterday, he had a great day. I think seven catches for whatever and a touchdown, big third-down catch over the middle in traffic. He’s gaining confidence with every game. Again, it’s just any time you can have an outing like he had and make plays, he’s going to build off that. And again, it’s all confidence to me.”
Are you going to have LaRon Landry back for this game? How is he tracking?
“Tracking in the right direction. He’s getting better. Still up in the air whether he’ll be back or not.”
How about Samson Satele?
“He’ll be back. [Reporter: And he’ll start?] Yes, unless something happens this week in practice, he’ll be the starter.”
You always like to see young guys respond to adversity. Coby Fleener sort of had that at the end of training camp when he had that rough patch. Was it just confidence he needed to get his feet under him?
“When we started training camp, if that’s what you’re alluding to, I felt like other than maybe day one, he came in here with the mindset that he was going to have a great training camp and it was going to lead to an outstanding season, no matter what his role was. He’s playing faster, he’s playing harder, he’s being more consistent, so I think it’s just carrying over.”
He had that rough patch toward the end of camp where he had the fumble and then the injuries but I never got the impression that you were too concerned with him?
“No, no. He’s a tough-minded kid. He handles adversity like everybody else around here handles adversity. He’s able to overcome it.”
Everybody talks about discipline and focus but this team is really putting it into practice and avoiding penalties. Do you consciously coach that avoidance of penalties or is it just a byproduct of the overall process?
“We made a huge emphasis in training camp. We have officials, as you know, every day in practice, except Friday. We had them all through training camp, as you know. We show them a tape, I’ll show them a tape every week. The points of emphasis, the penalties that were called the previous week, we get a cut-up from the league every week, so I’ll go through that and I’ll pick out the ones that they need to see. We’re always educating our guys on what the points of emphasis are, what they’re looking at, what they’re calling. So we’re constantly not only fundamentals, techniques and playing great situational football and giving them great examples from other games around the league week-in and week-out, but we make an emphasis to make sure that they know the game from a rules standpoint also.”
It seems like since you’ve been here the team doesn’t get too high after wins or too low after losses. Is that something you preach?
“Well again, it’s just like playing a game, never too high and never too low. We just try to keep it on the highway. You can’t ride those ebbs and flows, good or bad. We just try to be consistent. These guys are looking for consistency, I think everybody’s looking for consistency. They want to be able to know that when they walk in here after a win that we’re going to watch the tape, we’re going to go through it, we’re going to point out the plusses, we’re going to talk about the negative things, we’re going to talk about the things we need to clean up. They want to know that if something bad happens, we lose a ball game, it’s the same thing. They’re not going to walk in here and all of the sudden get Attila the Hun sitting in the front of the meeting room going crazy. It’s about staying consistent and staying steady and sticking to the process. Because as we know, and we’ve talked about it before, it’s a long, long season. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. So you can’t get on this rollercoaster, it’s too much. It drains you mentally, physically it’s hard, so we just try to keep it as consistent as possible. We don’t hide anything, we point out what we need to point out and then we move on.”